Ask yourself how many of your patrons volunteer to take pictures of your restaurant’s dishes. It might be a safe bet given the prevalence of food porn in social media that at least 25% of your patrons engage in this tedious, yet widespread behavior as gifts to their social media followers. These amateurs may apply filters and witty (at least to them) captions about your food. You have no control over how your food is styled and the public’s perception of your offerings is based on a few hurried shots. Now what if you could control how your food was styled and how the public perceived your offerings? You may consider using a professional food photographer to handle your food’s image. (If you feel uncertain about your offerings consider a restaurant equipment loan to add new elements to your kitchen which may in turn create a great series of shots in your restaurant’s online image portfolio.)
- Ask for references
- Consider experience over price
- Maximize your brand
This may sound funny at first read because your food does not need to be styled or send a message. You may be correct on this, but your restaurant is all about the food and not your perceptions. To many patrons, perception is reality and with Millennials becoming increasingly visual rather than verbal, images may be the new word of mouth marketing for this technological era.
If you Google ‘food photography’ and your city, dozens of names will pop up. The answer to whether you should hire a professional food photographer is a resounding yes. Ask for references from your culinary peers. Research names and ask for portfolios. If a photographer has not worked with food, but would like to try it out, this may be a red flag.
Many photographers are eager to book whatever shoot they can get. Some might even try to sell you on their food photography expertise even though they may not have so much as styled a ladle. Choose your person carefully. Experience counts for quite a bit and a seasoned food photographer will not get ruffled if there is a snafu with an uncooperative floret. Consider when you were looking for restaurant financing. You did not want to take out a restaurant loan from a company with an unproven track record or credentials.
If you are concerned about price, think of how expensive it would be to reshoot or reschedule because an inexperienced photographer did not show up. A record of accomplishment or excellence is worth a few more dollars every time. Also consider additional restaurant financing with some extra money going to increasing your marketing budget.
Your brand is everything in the market. People patronize your establishment for its offerings and your reputation. If you doubt the power of word of mouth, just read negative Yelp.com reviews. Genuine reviewers and internet trolls can damage a brand with a few negative or even untrue words. Now consider how negative reviews impact restaurants. Your brand matters, so maximize your potential in the best way possible by hiring a food photographer. Lenders do consider your online presence when considering your application for a restaurant loan. Use every bit of publicity to your advantage.
Many businesses are required to have a website at this point in our evolution. The content typically includes the menu, location, and hours, but what engages potential customers are the images of the food. Research the most upscale restaurants in your city and the majority will have mouthwatering and appealing images of their selections for the cyber world to see. They have paid quite a bit for this service as perception can be reality in the culinary world.
A qualified food photographer can be considered a marketing tool. While they may not get as much use as your oven or grill, they are a valuable component, and you do not need to take out a restaurant equipment loan to hire one. Every aspect of your brand counts and a food photographer might be the best way to get the visual word out there to potential patrons. Pictures are the new currency in this digital age and rather than fight it, it is more lucrative to join in with the masses.